By Philip James
Jonathan Marray/Dominic Inglot def John Isner /Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-7, 12-10
Unsurprisingly considering the big-serving players involved, the clay-court match saw only three breaks of serve.
The Brits had a couple of match points in the second set tie break but could not convert, and then themselves had to save three during the third set deciding breaker.
Querrey and Isner are both singles specialists, ranked 19th and 20th in the world respectively, but frequently play doubles together in big tournaments.
In contrast, Marray and Inglot both play almost exclusively doubles but have only partnered each other on the odd occasion and not since June last year, just before Marray won the Wimbledon men’s doubles title.
The match started with holds all around, as both teams struggled to make inroads on the return.
But at 3-3 the Brits got a foot hold on the Querrey serve and forced the first break point of the match, which they converted thanks to a double fault.
However they could not consolidate as Marray also double faulted help the Americans create and take their first and only break chance of the first set.
Inglot and Isner resumed normal service with a hold each but the Brits seemed to have the measure of Query’s serve, reaching 15-40 and taking the second break point to lead 6-5.
This time Marray made no mistake and served out to take the set 7-5.
The second set went with serve but was not entirely without incident as Marray saved a break point at 1-2 and held from 15-40 down at 3-4.
Isner too saved a break point at 4-4 but after that the set role inevitably towards a tie-break, the speciality of the two Americans in their singles matches.
It was the Brits who thrice went up a mini-break but Isner and Querrey pegged them back each time and saved match points before clinching the tie break 10-8.
The ensuing deciding Champions Tie Break went back and forth, with neither side able to establish or maintain a lead, but at 7-9 the Americans had two match points, the second on serve.
But the Brits were able to save both, and then a third at 9-10 to begin a run off three points in a row to take the breaker 12-10, and with it the match in an hour and 41 minutes.
It is a prize scalp for Marray and Inglot, who are ranked 18th and 42nd in the world in doubles, who are without their regular partners for the week.